Cringely: Apple, Amazon, and what Steve Jobs has up his sleeve for next Tuesday

“Apple had an announcement planned for July 6th but cancelled at the last moment. Interestingly enough, Amazon.com also had an announcement scheduled for that same day in July and it too was cancelled at the same time as Apple’s. Both companies planned to talk about their movie and TV Internet download services. The fact that both announcements were cancelled at the same time is especially curious given that the Wall Street Journal tells us that Apple and Amazon are using completely different technologies, with Amazon’s being based on Microsoft code,” Robert X. Cringely writes for PBS.

Cringely writes, “Channeling Steve Jobs now, I’d say the delay came down to this: Apple was still struggling to put together the right list of participating movie companies and needed to postpone the announcement so Steve could beat up on a few more studio honchos. What got Amazon to postpone their announcement was indirect pressure from Steve, who didn’t want to be shown up by Bezos & Company delivering more titles — a LOT more titles.”

“So Apple got Amazon to postpone its announcement by holding out the lure that Amazon might get Disney to participate in a later event. According to the Journal and elsewhere, the only major studio Amazon doesn’t have is Disney, which I am sure they would sorely like to have. Meanwhile, the only major studio Apple reportedly has IS Disney. That connection and Jobs’ role on the Disney board (as well as being the company’s largest shareholder) made it possible for him to force Disney to force Amazon — well you get it,” Cringely writes.

“And yet, next week’s announcement reportedly still has Apple with only Disney films to sell. This suggests the other studios are ganging up on pricing, trying to force Jobs to change the $9.99 and $14.99 price points that have been bandied about. Evidently these discussions have failed and Apple, not wanting to miss the Christmas season entirely, has to move forward now or wait until next year,” Cringely writes. “I am sure Apple will be negotiating with the studios until the last possible moment, but it may take Amazon trouncing Apple during the Christmas shopping season to have any real impact on those negotiations.”

“Frankly, I’m on the side of Apple on this one, because I like lower prices and tend to think that they discourage piracy much more than does the hated Digital Rights Management. With my kids on their 400th viewing of Shark Tale, I’d far rather pay $9.99 for a movie I know I can play than grab one for free that I’m not sure I can. On a dollars-per-hour basis, it is still cheap,” Cringely writes.

“Many pundits correctly predicted that Apple was about to announce new iMacs only to have that announcement take place earlier this week without an associated event. That’s typical Jobs marketing, casually presenting what we would have accepted as pretty big news in itself, which implies that whatever is coming next week, well it is REALLY big,” Cringely writes. “Maybe, maybe not, depending on those studio negotiations.”

“What I think is coming next week is exactly what I thought was coming last January when Apple at the last moment changed its mind about an earlier set of announcements. We’ll see a bunch of iPods, two televisions, and the Video Express adapter I first wrote about more than 18 months ago,” Cringely writes.

Cringely writes, “Yes, we’ll probably see a larger screen video iPod, a larger capacity flash-based iPod, and some models with yet larger hard drives. All of those are no-brainers. The televisions are no-brainers, too. Gateway started this trend, but now HP and Dell both sell HDTVs so it’s logical for Apple to do so, too. Apple was set to deliver a pair of plasma models back in January, but those may now have LCD displays, I don’t really know. But with the HDTV market booming, Apple would be crazy not to grab a piece of that action. However, the most interesting announcement I am expecting will be the Video Express, which I sure hope is finally here. If you don’t remember, this is a gizmo that plugs into a power outlet just like an AirPort Express, only where the AirPort Express sends WiFi AND audio around your house, the Video Express will send WiFi and audio AND video.”

Cringely writes, “This is key, because what’s been missing throughout this conversion to Internet television has been a way to incorporate our user device of choice — the TV. People don’t really want to watch movies on their computer screens. They’ll do it, some of them, but most people won’t, so for the Internet and downloadable video market to explode the way it is supposed to do, we need an easy way to get the movies out of our computers and onto our TV screens. The Video Express will do this in an elegant and typically-Apple fashion. It’s a simple device with no user interface at all, just ports. You plug it in the wall, it finds your WiFi network and video servers, then makes those servers available to your TV. But of course it is Front Row and iTunes-only, thanks — an iPodlike extension of your hard drive, viewable through your TV. And since the H.264 video decoding takes place in hardware inside the Video Express, your TV doesn’t even have to be a fancy one.”

Full article with much more here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Mark” and “LinuxGuy and Mac Prodigal Son” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Amazon.com launches ‘Amazon Unbox’ DVD-quality video download service with TV shows and movies – September 07, 2006
It’s Showtime: Apple invites media to special event in San Francisco on September 12th – September 05, 2006

48 Comments

  1. Well, I hope Cringley is right, but he doesn’t have the greatest track record. Movie downloads and at least some type of iPod are a given IMHO. Airport Express with video would be awesome, but TVs might be asking too much. The sandwich guy hasn’t said anything about TVs next Tuesday, so I doubt it’ll happen : )

  2. First, I am a tech person. However, I have never seen described how one gets WiFi, audio, or video from the beginning to the end. Every article assumes that I and others will immediately say “wow, I want one of those!”. Since I don’t know anything about how the system goes together, I have no interest in it.

    I have DSL for internet, and use an outdoor antenna for TV (costs nothing and I get just as good programs). I don’t have an IPod. I own 4 Macs and would like to get digital TV (HDTV).

    What exactly does the video express do?

  3. What exactly does the video express do?

    —————

    Well nothing, because there is no such thing as a video express… Yet… However, if one were released, it would ideally stream video content from your Mac to your televsion wirelessly.

  4. I watch dvd’s on my macbook pro, and my mac mini with a cinema display. I hate the way cable tv works. I don’t need 300 channels. when I only watch 8 programs on 6 networks. why cant i just get my selected media ‘pushed’ to me.

    I was browsing the amazon site last night, and they have ALOT of video for download. I am an ardent mac supporter, and i am sure the mac delivery of video will be better, but the heer volume of the amazon unbox ( or whatever it’s called ) is pretty impressive. they may have beaten us on this one.

    I understand how a video express will work but it’s the media that sells it. how am i going to watch the couple of shows and occasional movie? I am not watching tv shows in the iTunes level of quality on my tv. not gonna happen.

    better be big in tuesday, but i dont think it’s gonna be mind blowing.

    b

  5. “What got Amazon to postpone their announcement was indirect pressure from Steve, who didn’t want to be shown up by Bezos & Company delivering more titles — a LOT more titles.”

    My BS detector went off with this line, like Amazon would cave to Apple ESPECIALLY if they were about to deliver “a LOT more titles”. I Cringe(ly) at the idea. NOT!

    MW = NOT(!)

  6. I have always found the idea of an Apple HDTV with a mac inside a great idea. It would make all other HDTVs obsolete, and allow direct access to Front Row, etc.

    ————————–

    A video express would essentially do the same thing. And a $200 video express would prevent your $2000+ HDTV from becoming obsolete when it’s time to upgrade your computer.

  7. The article says that Robert X. Cringley writes for PBS. I’ve seen some of his technology specials, but does he have a regular program that is on PBS at regular times? Does anybody know?

    I’ve said this before, I would be happy to see an Apple HDTV. They have the technology and the capability to do this. If there was an HDTV tuner included, I would probably buy one. I’m still in the market for one, but have been holding off for the prices to come down and the cable stations to increase their HDTV support.

    As far as iPod and WiFi updates, that’s a given. We get new ones every year. Oh well, next Tuesday is just around the corner.

    –Rudge

  8. Yes, Amazon has a lot of studios, but there’s still no easy way to watch those movies on the TELEVISION, where people watch such things. Amazon’s service is very limiting, in my opinion. You can’t even burn a DVD.
    Does Apple have a solution? Should be interesting.
    I do think it has to be big, whatever Apple’s announcement. They have a way of surprising everyone as we all know.

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